Focusing on What Offenders Think

Read Hayes

Really, it’s not us; it’s them. Hopefully, you and I are not the target audience of our crime and loss prevention efforts. So as I’m prone to say a lot, our main focus should be on what offenders think and not on what we think or believe. It’s all about what an offender perceives and how they respond.

The Psychology of Deterrence
We should all work together to gain a much deeper understanding of what drives individuals to seek or seize a crime opportunity. What are they looking to get or attack? Why? What are they thinking? What are they looking for? What do they notice? How do they perceive our environments? How do they tend to respond to protective cues?

Evidence-based LP is tough and requires expertise, resources, patience, and time. But most of us have learned the right way to do things is usually the toughest way. A commitment by LP and industry leaders to moving our discipline from anecdote to fact-based practice will pay off.

Digital Partners

People are all a little different. We all come from different genetic pools, home environments, experiences, and peer groups. And that does make a difference in noticing and responding to protective items or people. But we need to continue enhancing our anti-crime investments. There is still a ton of improvement opportunity.

Stressed, distracted, and even impaired offenders are still largely missing or dissing our crime deterrent measures. That’s why US retailers continue losing billions of dollars and are still experiencing weekly violence and fraud.

Our research team is now working with executives from forty-five retail chains, over forty LP solution partners, and multiple product manufacturers to further refine prevention. Our three primary prevention tools include:

  • Making a crime more difficult to pull off (increase effort),
  • Making a crime seem way too risky (increase perceived detection/response risk), or
  • Helping the offender recognize their crime won’t get them what they want, that it won’t be rewarding enough (benefit denial).

As I’ve discussed before, we’ve also learned to deter offenders.

  • See—They need to know what deterrent measures we’ve deployed.
  • Get—They need to understand what these measures will do to them.
  • Fear—And they need to believe that these measures are a very real clear and present danger to their criminal plan.

By breaking our efforts down to these simple components, we can make incremental improvements in our processes and technologies. We aren’t flying blindly. We are focused on offender perceptions and responses, and we’re further dialing in our efforts on what all has to happen to deter someone. Hence, evidence-based LP practice is our protocol and our best hope.

In future columns I will strive to keep you informed of some of the strides we’re making in real stores, real distribution centers, and real parking lots.

Relationships and leadership make the world go round. Or at least they help us set and stay on the right path. And the retailer-driven Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) is no different. Far-sighted LP leaders realized fifteen years ago that protecting people and places needed more science and better process to improve their organizations’ goals.

That leadership continues today at the LPRC. Innovative LP practitioners are leading the council’s ten working groups and setting the direction and actionable research results for these groups. Likewise, the LPRC’s board of advisors (BOA) is leading the overall group’s vision, strategy, and priorities.

To that end, the BOA members were hosted by Tractor Supply Company in April at their beautiful Nashville-area headquarters. The BOA reviewed 2014 to 2015 research efforts and results to date, and the LPRC process, and set upcoming priorities. The current LPRC board of advisors is shown in the box on page 70.

Impact Conference 2015
It will be tough to match—much less beat—the amazing 2014 Impact experience, but Toys“R”Us Vice President Chris Gillen and his Impact conference planning team are working hard to do just that. Last year’s conference participation doubled from the usual 100 executives to 200, so Toys“R”Us’ Gillen and Josh Machtinger, Bloomingdales’ Fred Becker, and Walmart’s Carlos Bacelis are busy planning the event hosted by the University of Florida to be even more engaging and informative. I invite you to learn more about the annual Impact conference and to consider joining us in Gainesville on October 5–7.

Recommended Reading
Criminal Behavior: A Psychosocial Approach, 7th or 8th edition by Bartol and Bartol discusses offenders from a social, biological, and psychological perspective. The book shows how modern theory and research indicates criminal offenders are products of biological makeups, as well as being embedded in and continually influenced by the social and built environments they grew up and move around in. This book should provide further illumination for LP professionals since we must better understand why employees and visitors alike break rules and hurt people.

Wrap Up
Evidence-based LP is tough and requires expertise, resources, patience, and time. But most of us have learned the right way to do things is usually the toughest way. A commitment by LP and industry leaders to moving our discipline from anecdote to fact-based practice will pay off. LP effectiveness, efficiency, and financial impact increases. The respect and ability to communicate and “sell” LP programs is enhanced. And we have evidence to back this claim up.


LPRC Board of Advisors
Brian Bazer, dressbarn
Bobby Bull, Cam Connections
Erik Buttlar, Best Buy
Tim Fisher, T-Mobile
Dan Geiger, Target
Chris Gillen, Toys“R”Us
Scott Glenn, Sears Holdings
Mike Lamb, LPC, Walmart
Kevin Larson, Kroger
Steve Longo, CAP Index
Chad McIntosh, Bloomingdale’s
Barry Poole, Mead Johnson
Scott Pronger, Meijer
Linda Reiring, Proctor & Gamble
Steve Scott, Tractor Supply
Byron Smith, 7-Eleven
Bill Titus, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Jack Trlica, LP Magazine
Kevin Valentine, LPC, Sterling Jewelers
Claude Verville, LPC, Lowe’s
John Voytilla, Office Depot/OfficeMax
Dennis Wamsley, Publix Super Markets

The Spring Issue of LP Magazine EU

Feature articles include:
. How Superdry Brand Became Focused on Counterfeit Merchandise
. Why Europe Is Bidding for the BID Movement
. ECR Europe: The Power of Partnerships
. Dutch Supermarket Giant Albert Heijn’s Waste Journey Reduces Costs and Carbon
. Plus much more

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